Cuddapah District (1915)

"Cuddapah", volume 1, by C. F. Brackenbury, I.C.S., in the Madras District Gazetteer series, Government Press, Madras (1915)

Made available by the Internet Archive.
Source: Library of the University of California, Los Angeles Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: September 10, 2008.

p. 121.

The north-west line of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railways enters the district at Balapalle in its south-east corner, and runs diagonally across it to the north-west boundary whence it continues through the Anantapur district. The principal railway stations are Kodur, Nandalur, Cuddapah, Kamalapuram, Yerraguntla and Kondapuram. This line was opened in 1804-66. About 120 miles of its length falls within Cuddapah district. This solitary line of railway is inadequate to the needs of the district. Not only are there towns of secondary importance such as Rayachoti and Porumamilla situated more than thirty miles from any station, but Proddatur and Jammalamadugu the former probably the wealthiest town in the Ceded Districts are as yet unconnected with any railway system. The importance of opening up more of the district to railroad communication has for a long time been recognized by the Government and is constantly receiving the attention of the local authorities.

In the year 1898, after the second famine of the last decade of the century, the Government selected certain lines as being best suited for construction as famine protective railways. One of these was a line from Kalikiri, a station on the metre-gauge line in Vayalpad taluk, to Rayachoti. The line was surveyed and a report on its proposed construction, together with an estimate and plans, was made ready by the end of 1900. In April 1902 this line was considered along with five others and was placed last in order of relative urgency because, in the opinion of the Government, "a reconsideration of the conditions that prevail in the district to be served by this branch has led to some doubt as to whether its possible utility is sufficient to justify the expenditure which would be incurred on its construction." In November of the same year the Government says of this project : " The conclusion now arrived at is that the conditions of the district with regard to the population, the roads and the routes of communication that have become established for cart traffic

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are such as would prevent Rayachoti from becoming a really efficient centre of distribution ; so that its connection with the railway system would not accomplish the principal object sought for that of facilitating and cheapening the transport of grain in a time of scarcity." The Government therefore no longer advocated its construction as a famine protective line and it was definitely withdrawn from the programme.

This line was however only part of a bigger enterprise formulated by the Board of Revenue in 1897, which contemplated the construction of a line from Kalikiri to Nandyal, traversing the whole of the district from south to north and passing through Rayachoti, Yerragudipad, Proddatur and Jammalamadugu.

In 1905 the Collector of the district urged a reconsideration of the abandonment of the Kalikiri-Rayachoti line which he represented should be regarded as a segment of the more ambitious project of connecting Kolar with Nandyal by a line taken from Bowringpet station through Punganur to Kalikiri, Rayachoti and Vempalle, and thereafter to Yerragudipad whence the formerly projected line would continue through Proddatur and Jammalamadugu. The Government however adhered to their decision to abandon the Kalikiri- Rayachoti line.

In the following year the Government suggested that it was desirable " to include in the programme of protective railways a line for the protection of the Cuddapah and Kurnool districts, which will connect the north-west line of the Madras Railway with the Bezwada-Guntakal line : for example, a line from Cuddapah to Giddalur via Badvel, or Cuddapah to Nandyal via Sirvel." The Collectors of Kurnool and Cuddapah were requested to report on the relative advantages of these alternative lines. As the proposed route via Badvel would not greatly benefit the Kurnool district, a line through the north of Cuddapah district to Nandyal was advocated.

As a result of the correspondence that ensued the Government of Madras addressed the Government of India in 1910 to sanction the construction of the Yerragudipad-Nandyal Railway as a protective line, funds for which should be provided from the Famine Insurance Grant, But the Government of India, while recognizing its importance, declined to sanction the execution of the project from this grant as all the money available therefrom was likely to be required for some time to come for the carrying out of " even more important irrigation projects."

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Within the last few months the District Board has passed a resolution in favour of levying an additional cess for the construction of this branch line. The papers are said to be before Government at the time of writing [Footnote: 1st July 1914], and it is hoped that the project may have a better chance now of being carried out.

Several railway accidents have unfortunately occurred within the limits of this district, the majority being due to the weakening of some one of the numerous bridges which span the various rivers and streams over which the line has to pass. The district appears to be peculiarly liable to periodical bursts of rain, of a violence quite out of proportion to the average annual rainfall, and at such times the rivers and streams of the district which receive most of the drainage of the Mysore plateau rise with alarming rapidity and endanger both life and property. The annals of the district show that the most dangerous floods are to be expected in the latter part of October, when the north-east monsoon sometimes first makes its appearance with the burst of a cyclonic storm. Such an instance occurred on the night of October 20, 1870, when the Cheyyer rapidly rose to full flood, and an arch of the bridge gave way before the violence of the torrent and the debris which it brought down and wedged against the piers. Whether the section was actually carried away before the train arrived or the train itself brought down the bridge was never ascertained. As the mail passed over the bridge with slackened speed, though without any warning of danger, the engine and the two front carriages were precipitated into the river. Three passengers were killed, two of whom were Europeans, as well as five railway employees. The bodies were recovered and buried on the south bank of the river. Owing to the slow pace at which the train was going the hinder wagons were stopped in time by the brake, the couplings between the front wagons and the rest of the train having snapped.

In June 1874 there was another serious accident. An inspection train going over the bridge at Kamalapuram at a rapid pace got off the line, came into collision with one of the piers, and then leapt down into the sandy bed of the river. It is a matter for surprise that every person in it was not killed. Mr. Robinson, the Permanent Way Inspector, and Mr. Haworth, the Assistant Traffic Manager, escaped with slight injuries, but a subordinate who was in the same carriage was cut to pieces, and another employee was so injured that he afterwards died. The other occupants of the train escaped with few injuries.

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But these accidents, serious enough as they were, are dwarfed by the magnitude of the disaster that occurred near Mangapatnam in 1902. Between the hours of midnight and 3 A.M. on the early morning of September 12, a sudden deluge of rain in the nature of a waterspout fell and flooded the country on the south side of the railway line, sweeping away the second and third spans of bridge No. 664 near the 206th mile a little beyond Mangapatnam railway station. The mail train, which was unusually full as it carried homeward bound passengers and the Europe mail, passed through the station without stopping shortly after 3 A.M., and, on reaching the bridge, was, with the exception of the rear brake-van, precipitated into the gap. The disaster was unfortunately attended with lamentable loss of life; seventy-one dead bodies were subsequently recovered either at the scene of the accident or at various points down stream where they had been carried by the current. Seventy-seven persons escaped, and eight only remained unaccounted for to complete the total of 156 who were in the train according to the calculation made by the committee of enquiry. The collapse of the bridge was found to be due to the side pressure to which the skew piers and girders were subjected by the immense volume of water which rose above the girders on the south side: its force being augmented by large accumulations of straw and rubbish until one of the piers gave way and was bodily overturned. The Government held the accident to be due to causes beyond human control and neither attributable to negligence on the part of the railway administration nor laxity on the part of the Company's establishment.

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2008.